“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
I came to Moderation Management (MM) in mid-December of 2007. I lurked on the MM Listserv for a couple of weeks, and saw that there was a ‘Dry January’ planned. I knew this was something I needed to do, but up until that point the longest abstaining period I had had in decades was one very difficult week that I got through by the skin of my teeth. (It was supposed to have been a month.) I was nervous, scared, apprehensive, filled with dread. I don’t remember a lot of hope in that mix.
On New Year’s Day I said goodbye to my only child as she drove out the driveway for Boulder Colorado, to start a new life. Only then did I realize I would be coping with that emptiness without my best friend ~ booze ~ to keep me company.
As January began I was glued to the MM Listserv, as if it was my lifeline. Well, it was my lifeline. In the evenings I cried through my cravings, and looked to my husband for support. I went to bed really early. I was miserable, but I didn’t drink. Yet.
On Christmas Day our family had experienced a tragedy like no other we had been through. A baby was stillborn. We had been walking through that pain for the previous two weeks and on January 12 there was a memorial service for Baby Claire. As one can imagine it was a very difficult day. The service was late afternoon, a Saturday. The church was packed and heavy with emotion. It was held in a neighboring town so there was a half-hour drive home afterward, and all I could think about was how badly I wanted a drink. By the time we arrived I had decided I wanted gin & tonics, and that’s what I had. Several, in fact.
I was horribly hungover the next day, and extremely disappointed that I had broken my commitment to go a month without drinking. I was scared too, because I had been thinking that if I couldn’t accomplish this, I was in real trouble, and probably needed to go to rehab. I shamefully confessed to the members of the MM community that I had drank and got several posts saying, ‘It’s OK jj’. But of course it wasn’t OK, and I knew it. I don’t remember if I reached out to Pierre (MM member) or if he reached out to me, but some how we connected and I told him I wanted to start abstaining again and finish out the month and go beyond, to make up for the day I drank. He said he’d help, and knowing he was supporting me meant a lot. I finished what started out as one month without alcohol with 37 total days abstinent and one drinking day. That determination combined with the humiliation of failing in the middle spurred me on to be pretty successful with moderation for several years.
Thirty-one days without alcohol is hard. For some of us, it is most difficult in the middle, because the anticipation of starting and the newness of the experience has waned and the calendar is still filled with many empty days to come. We all know the tricks ~ keep busy, plan great NA (Non-Alcoholic) drinks, allow food treats you wouldn’t ordinarily have, go for a walk or work out in the evening to thwart happy-hour cravings, go to movies, etc. Once you get through the middle of the month you’ll find you feel good, you look good, you sleep better, your mind has cleared and you can appreciate being sober rather than simply cope with being sober. It’s worth the battle ~ I like to remind myself how great I’ll feel at the end when I’ve accomplished my goal, versus how disappointed I would be in myself if I have to live the rest of my life knowing I failed. I have lived with a lot of disappointment surrounding my drinking life, and I just don’t need any more of it. How about you?
Post Submitted By: jinglejoey (jj)